The Cavaliers are frantically searching for a way to upgrade their roster as LeBron James’ free agency decision looms large over the future in Cleveland.
The Cavs have to both prepare for a possible future without LeBron while also doing everything they can to improve the roster to the point where he’d want to stay. Most expected Cleveland to be active in trying to make a trade during the draft, but June 21 came and went with them staying put and simply taking Collin Sexton with the eighth overall pick.
Sexton still may be dealt in the near future, as they did with Andrew Wiggins in 2014, but for now he’s their lone significant young asset on the roster. The Cavs are very active in trade talks, but it remains to be seen what they can actually make happen given their lack of assets. To help facilitate a possible trade, Cleveland is in the business of packaging as many easily movable contracts as they can.
Which leads us to the big news out of Cleveland on Wednesday, which was the Cavs somewhat shockingly picking up their team option on Kendrick Perkins’ contract, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
As much as the Cavs appreciate Perkins as a locker room presence, the decision is simply a salary-cap ploy in order to try to aggregate the veteran center’s $2.5 million salary along with an existing contract in order to pursue a trade around the league.
Perkins’ contract could be tacked on to one of their many bigger deals to acquire a player or two, and a team could pretty easily waive Perk without it being a significant cap hit to them. The veteran big man, who didn’t play a minute with the Cavs this season, won’t be a trade chip in the sense of being an asset, but simply as a salary matching tool. As McMenamin notes, the contract isn’t guaranteed as of now, but if they were to trade him it would have to be.
In doing this, the Cavs must feel like they are at least reasonably close to making a deal happen, with what team and for what player we just don’t know yet. It’s either that or they couldn’t imagine playing next season without Perk roaming the sidelines getting in near fights with Drake and Steph Curry.